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Park Hills Temporarily Suspends Oversight of City Board of Adjustments

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify and correct some information from an earlier version as noted at the bottom.

The City of Park Hills suspended the oversight of its board of adjustment on matters related to infill development and home expansion in the city for six months. The suspension directly relates to setback and access point spacing issues as well as height requirements and minimum lot widths.

The emergency ordinance came about due to the persistence of resident Robert Schoborg who has been trying to get Planning & Development Services (PDS) approval to renovate his house on Jackson Street. PDS provides professional planning staff support to the city and its board of adjustment.

Schoborg came to this week's city council meeting to present his dilemma, which he said has pushed back his construction schedule considerably. At his wit's end about red tape and regulations that he claimed seem to contradict each other, Schoborg came to the meeting armed with signatures of six of his neighbors saying they didn't mind the renovation project in their neighborhood.  

He told council that his time was running out and he was getting nowhere with PDS.

"To be fair, PDS is looking at what we told them to look at," said City Attorney Todd McMurtry. "We need to find a long term solution."

So because the city was told by PDS that their regulations were very much out of date, and residents who wanted to improve their property were being penalized, the city came up with a plan to take care of their own regulations for a period of six months while they work with PDS staff to update their regulations. The ordinance was passed on an emergency basis so that Schoborg could move ahead with his plans.

Then, in executive session, council and McMurtry discussed how to resolve the lawsuit against Hukill Hazlett Harrington. When council returned to open session, they approved the settlement which requires that HHH pay the city $100,000, and in return the city will release all claims and dismiss the suit. HHH is a Blue Ash, Ohio-based insurance agency.

In other business, council passed the second reading of an ordinance separating the city's Code Enforcement Board from the Nuisance Board. Mayor Matt Mattone said the measure would give the city the authority to have a nuisance board. Kenton County Director of Planning and Zoning Emi Randall, who was at the meeting on another matter, pointed out to council and the mayor that the city is part of the county's joint code board, and that board is also a nuisance board, which would make the move to separate the city's boards seem redundant.

Another resident, Mark Koenig, asked about the caution tape at the end of St. Joseph Avenue where he lives, and said he had found out they were going to put a bus stop there. He had several objections to the project, saying from a safety and annoyance perspective it was a bad idea. Since there are plans to put a bus stop on both sides of Dixie Highway, council decided that Koenig had several valid points and made a note to meet with the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) about the placement of the bus stop that has yet to be installed and to possibly leave the bus stop on the other side of the road where it is currently, but with a little updating.

Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a memoradum of understanding with the City of Covington and the Community and Technical College System to do a study to find out what is the best use for the old Gateway campus that would benefit both cities.

Council also voted to support the syringe access program proposed by the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

Emi Randall came to the meeting to tell council about the county's proposal of an ordinance to register a local person for vacant and foreclosed properties in the county. Council passed a resolution supporting the ordinance.

Richard Webster was promoted in the police department from Sergeant to Lieutenant retroactively to February 22. Officer Mark McClure was promoted to full time, also retroactively to February 22.

Sergeant Richard Webster was promoted to Lieutenant and Officer Mark McClure was promoted to full time by Chief Cody Stanley.

Council passed the first reading of an ordinance reconstructing personnel policies and Mayor Mattone said the second reading won't be until all the agencies within the government sign off on the rules within the ordinance.

Several executive orders were passed appointing people to different committees. On the Infrastructure committee, Councilwoman Pam Spoor objected to the fact that Kathy Zembrodt and she had worked hard on the committee for years and the chairmanship wasn't given to them. Mayor Mattone said that he tried to line up people with the time and the expertise to be on the committees.

Police Chief Cody Stanley told council he had been working with a resident, Bob Amott, to get cameras into Trolley Park. So far they have a design for two antique looking light poles which will also have cameras. These cameras will have a wireless design and be able to be monitored at the police department all the time. The estimated cost is about $4,000, and Councilwoman Pam Spoor said she thought the money could come out of the vehicle fee fund. Council thought the matter was important enough that they voted to take not more than $5,000 out of the vehicle fee fund so that the plan can begin.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article indicated that the City of Park Hills suspended oversight of Planning & Development Services, but the city council voted to suspend oversight of the city's board of adjustments. The article has been updated to reflect this correction and clarification. RCN regrets the error.

Story & photos by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Top photo: Robert Schoborg (RCN)